E-commerce, the word sounds like music to my ears!!
The way all of us are bound by e-commerce shopping is just unexplainable.
It has made our lives simpler.
A lot of new e-commerce ventures turn almost every day. In case you are reading this, probably you are looking forward to e-commerce development.
E-commerce development is incomplete without an e-commerce platform.
So now the question is, how exactly should you choose an e-commerce platform?
Let me quickly put across the factors that you need to look out for while choosing an e-commerce platform.
In case you are in hurry, here are our 5 best picked e-commerce platforms:
Factors to look out for in an E-commerce platform:
The market is filled with so many e-commerce platforms that a choice between good and bad becomes confusing.
If I were to choose an e-commerce platform, then below are the list of features that I would be checking out-
I would rather choose an e-commerce platform which is easy to use. Definitely, you would not want to struggle trying to figure out how things work.
E-commerce businesses are closely coupled with analytics of all sorts. The more, the better. These insights can play a very crucial role in the upliftment of your e-store business.
Like analytics, marketing is yet another decision-making factor. This creates brand awareness and spreads the word.
I always feel a good customer support puts an end to most of your troubles. What can be better than getting the right kind of support as and when you need it!!
A known fact is, E-commerce is interlinked to payments. You can’t get working if there are not enough payment gateways available. At the same time, it’s good to be aware of the transaction fees if any.
Security is the base for any e-commerce platform. A security flaw can get the entire e-store shutters down.
While all the above features are important, you certainly do not want to be burning holes to your pockets. Choose the one which is budget friendly in terms of initial and renewal pricing.
I am sure, this would have given you an idea that multiple factors are involved while choosing an e-commerce platform.
Well, it’s never that simple to choose!! Isn’t it.
I would make this simpler by providing my choice of top 5 e-commerce platforms, based on my experience.
So, without wasting much time let’s get started.
Shopify in a lot of sense does not require much introduction. It is well-known, popularly used and one of the top-selling e-commerce platform.
Shopify is based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and was founded in 2004. To its credit, Shopify has over 700,000 merchants.
Let me provide more details about Shopify.
All plans support unlimited products which is the greatest advantage of using Shopify. As part of Marketing support, various sales channels are available.
The sales channels vary based on the geographical location, which is yet another benefit.
Other features include manual order creation, invoice generation, discount codes, email marketing, abandoned cart recovery, gift cards to name a few.
Shopify provides advanced analytics support and reporting.
It gives a 14-day free trial.
While Shopify provides only 10 free templates, it has over 100 premium templates available. These are mobile responsive.
Shopify provides an all in one exclusive Shopify app store. This contains over 100 free and premium apps. The app store is yet another strong point of using Shopify.
Plans and Pricing:
The feature list as mentioned is exhaustive. So, is Shopify expensive since it provides so many features?
A straight answer is, it all depends on the plan you choose.
At a high-level Shopify has 3 main plans- Basic Shopify starting at $29/month, Shopify starting at $79/month and Advanced Shopify starting at $299/month.
Like most platforms, Shopify’s longer duration plans are cheaper or rather provide some discounts.
If you do not need too many advanced features and are just starting, then Shopify also has a Shopify Lite plan at $9/month.
If you need more advance plan with a 99.98% uptime guarantee, the Shopify has a more elite plan called as “Shopify Gold”.
Customer support is available in Shopify using Resource section and the Help section. The amount of information available over here is exhaustive and contains almost every topic.
Other ways you can reach them is over email, phone, and live chat. The live chat is available 24/7.
The only issue I found was the very long wait time.
I waited for 15 minutes and then terminated the chat. Shopify also has a huge blog section which covers several topics of e-commerce interests.
Another important aspect is their FAQ, which answers most of the queries.
As the first part of security, you get free SSL certificate with every plan.
Shopify is Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This means you can be least worried about your card transactions.
Shopify provides auto updates of any security patches.
The Shopify app store provides several top-rated security driven apps which can be implemented to your store.
With no doubts, Shopify has good support for Payment gateways. From your account, you can choose and manage the payment gateways.
While it supports Card payments, it also supports region-specific digital wallets. PayPal, Google Pay are few of these.
Shopify supports country wise popular payment gateways as well as International payment gateways. Also supported is Shopify payments which are powered by Stripe.
In case your region supports cryptocurrencies then Shopify allows you to configure cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins, Litecoin and over 300 digital currencies.
Now here is a twist in the tale, Shopify has a transaction fee which varies between 0.5% to 2%. So, while you expand your business, Shopify earns a share of this.
Ease of Usage:
Shopify has an interface which is not conventional in most aspects. While this is not complex at all, a lot of people find this different.
At a higher level, you would find most of the menus available on the left side. Overall once you get used to the interface, it is simple and easy to navigate.
Next I have chosen 3dcart in my list. You would have heard this name while searching for e-commerce platforms.
It was first started in 1997 and is headquartered in Tamarac, FL. While it provides several e-commerce features, 3dcart experienced major growth when it was considered a suitable choice for fulfillment by Amazon.
Moving on, let me give more details about 3dcart.
3dcart is filled with useful features which include few basic and advanced features required for e-store development.
It has a vast support for marketing and advanced analytics.
3dcart includes email marketing, drip campaigns, Gift Card, SEO support, abandoned cart recovery, advanced analytics support, and several others.
Inventory management is simply seamless using 3dcart.
Similarly, 3dcart has a bunch of options to manage products. It enables multi-platform selling through Amazon, Facebook, and several others.
The designs are completely customizable. 3dcart provides over 100 optimized templates. With zero coding efforts, you can completely customize your store.
This includes a good 50 free themes.
3dcart provides a 15-day free trial. Try now!
Plans and Pricing:
3dcart starts cheap and for the first-time users provides several discounts.
Except for the Startup plan which limits the number of products to 100, all other plans support unlimited products.
3dcart has 4 plans.
The StartUp plan starts at $19/month, the Basic plan starts at $29/month. For more advanced features you have Plus plan starting at $79/month and Pro plan which costs $229/month.
3dcart has a separate resource section.
While the resource section is not exhaustive, it still caters to most of the queries. It is concise and precise at the same time.
3dcart also has a blog section which caters to multiple topics across e-commerce interest. All of this is accompanied by an FAQ section along with video tutorials.
It has a 24/7/365 support available over email, phone, and live chat. I went ahead and explored their live chat option.
The live chat is initiated by a chatbot and provides an option for Sales or Support.
I tried Support and there was no live chat option available at that moment.
Next, I tried the Sales option. Though I got connected to a support representative, it took a very long time to get a reply before I decided to close the chat.
Overall the live chat was a disappointing experience.
3dcart has a good set of security features in place. This starts with having secure web hosting which includes SSL certificate.
You get automatic monthly upgrades along with daily backups. 3dcart provides 24/7 monitoring.
The services are Level 1 PCI compliant. To add on, 3dcart provides 99.94% uptime and enables IP blocking feature.
When it’s about payment gateways, 3dcart has a good support for over 100 payment gateways.
It provides popular payment gateways based on the geographical location.
With cards it supports popular digital wallets such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Also, you can use PayPal credit.
In terms of digital currency, it allows only bitcoins. The good news is, it has no transaction fees.
Ease of Usage:
It is simply very easy to get started with 3dcart. A lot of places you would not feel this is complex.
The intuitive dashboard has all options available in one place making it easy to navigate.
All put together, it is straightforward to use even for beginners.
Next on my list is Lemonstand. It is yet another customizable e-commerce platform. It has a mixed market presence.
Lemonstand was first started in 2010 and has its headquarters in Vancouver. Like several other platforms, Lemonstand also provides a 14-day free trial.
Let me give a quick glance at other details about Lemonstand.
Lemonstand provides a different offering by allowing unlimited products as part of any plan you choose.
However, it restricts the number of orders per month. This means as you scale up, you need to keep upgrading to a higher plan.
When it comes to features, Lemonstand covers most of the basic e-commerce features.
Something you would find in all other competitors. However, there are no out of the box features.
Be it customizable designs, marketing support, subscriptions, advance SEO or inventory management, Lemonstand provides these.
Plans and Pricing:
With Lemonstand, you can start off cheap. A good option in case you have a restrictive budget.
It has 3 plans.
The Starter plan costs $19/month, the Growth plan starts at $69/month. The Professional plan which also has priority email support starts at $199/month.
When it comes to customer support, Lemonstand provides few webinars. Glance over their website and you would find few resources.
It does have live chat options which are restricted to specific time.
Well, needless to mention customer support is something that needs more improvement.
Lemonstand provides site-wide SSL. Also, this is PCI/DSS compliant. It provides automatic deployments with updates.
If you are just getting a hang of it, then Lemonstand also provides developer sandbox. On the whole, Lemonstand provides rudimentary security features.
Lemonstand has sufficiently good payment gateway support. It is segregated region wise.
There are few digital wallets such as PayPal, Amazon Pay which are supported. Speaking about cryptocurrencies, Lemonstand only allows Bitcoins via BitPay.
Ease of Usage:
Well, I wouldn’t say Lemonstand has the simplest interface that I have ever seen.
While this seems unassumingly simple, let me tell you this involves a bit of research on how things work.
Lemonstand does have a few handy videos showing demos.
But on user-friendliness, yes it does have a steep learning curve as compared to several other platforms.
Again, I have another name which is popular and well-known to most e-commerce developers.
Volusion is also one of the top-rated e-commerce platforms used by several big and small brands.
Volusion was first started in 1999 and has its headquarters in Austin, Texas, USA. This too has a 14-day free trial.
Next, let me speak more about Volusion in detail.
Volusion has a good collection of free and premium themes. Not only are these mobile responsive but are also visually appealing.
Social media integrations and getting traffic insights is extremely simple. Also, Volusion supports several advanced analytics with its built-in SEO tools.
Advance reporting, abandoned cart recovery, API integrations are few other features which Volusion provides.
Few of the plans have number of products restrictions while the others support unlimited products.
Plans and Pricing:
Volusion, like most other platforms, gives you benefits for longer duration plans. So, you choose an annual plan, you get discounts.
Volusion has a total of 4 plans.
The most basic personal plan starts at $29/month. While this is high priced, the plan provides most of the basic e-commerce functionalities.
Next, the Professional plan cost $79/month. You get unlimited products with the Business plan which costs $299/month.
Finally, you also have a Prime plan which has a customizable pricing based on your requirements.
Volusion does have an attractive customer support with its dedicated resource section.
The resource is well segregated and you would find most of the topics being covered over here.
You can reach Volusion’s customer support through email or chat. Over the chat, you can drop a message which will be replied within a few hours.
Another useful aspect is its blog and FAQ section.
Most important aspect is the PCI compliance and Volusion is completely PCI compliant. Volusion guarantees a super 99.9% uptime.
Next moving on to the SSL certificates. Now, this is not part of Volusion’s plan. However, you can opt for this at a separate pricing.
You can choose for Volusion SSL or Symantec SSL or GeoTrust SSL or Thawte SSL. All of these have different pricing.
Volusion does support most of the basic payment gateway. Your region-specific payment gateway is something that it includes.
While Volusion supports popular digital wallets, it does not support digital currencies of any form.
Ease of Usage:
Volusion dashboard is filled with several features like most e-commerce platforms.
At a first glance, you may find the interface to be different from most other platforms.
Though the interface is different, it is intuitive, feature-rich and provides smooth navigation. Overall its simple even for novice users.
The fifth option on my list is Bigcommerce. I am sure you would have heard this name before.
Bigcommerce was started in 2009 and has its headquarters in Austin, Texas. It claims to manage a 99.99% or a 100% uptime in most cases.
Bigcommerce provides a 15-day free trial.
Moving on to more details about Bigcommerce.
Bigcommerce has a good collection of fast loading and mobile responsive templates. Designing and customizations are made simpler.
Bigcommerce has several intuitive e-commerce specific features which are suitable for small business, B2B as well as enterprise-scale businesses.
It has some strong analytics, SEO, marketing, reporting, cart recovery, and many more useful features. You get a complete e-commerce package with any plan you choose.
All of this is supported with a good set of third-party APIs. It has well-curated apps which can provide additional functionalities easily.
Plans and Pricing:
It has a total of 4 plans. The starting plan also referred as Standard plan starts at $29.95/month. The Plus plans starts at $79.95/month.
The other more advance plans are Pro and Enterprise. The Pro plan starts at $249.95/month. The Enterprise plan has custom pricing.
No doubts, Bigcommerce has a very good customer support. It has an exhaustive resource section dedicated to various functionalities.
Bigcommerce also includes forum support, blog section, case study, and an FAQ section.
You can reach them over email or call.
Bigcommerce guarantees an industry-leading uptime of 99.99%.
Not only is this reliable and fast but is also secure in multiple ways.
It has multiple layer security with sever specific firewall, scanners, intrusion detection system and 24/7 monitoring.
Bigcommerce provides SSL certificate and has DDoS protection. And yes, Bigcommerce is Level1 PCI compliant.
Bigcommerce has a very good support for payment gateways. It has support for over 40 pre-integrated payment gateways serving over 100 countries.
Almost 250 local payment methods are supported. Bigcommerce also supports digital wallets such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and others.
Bigcommerce does not charge a transaction fee which is something great. To highlight, Bigcommerce does not support digital currencies.
Ease of Usage:
Bigcommerce in a way is neither simple nor complex. It has an intuitive dashboard featuring all options.
It is easy to get started and explore. With all this, there are video tutorials available to guide you through the dashboard features.
It’s never easy choosing the right e-commerce platform, especially when each one has its own benefits and shortcomings.
All of these can be a suitable choice but grossly depends on your business requirement.
If I must choose one, then I would go ahead with Bigcommerce.
Bigcommerce is popular, commits to a dedicated uptime, provides good speed. It has reliable services with excellent inbuilt security features.
Well, there is more to this!!
You get tons of apps, a good customer support and can build intuitive UI designs.
While this may seem a bit expensive, it’s worth the money in the long run.